For decades soccer has constituted an alternative public space in the Middle East. Largely unnoticed by international experts, soccer provided a venue for the expression of pent-up anger and frustration against authoritarianism. By the time the Arab revolt erupted in December 2010, soccer had emerged as a key nonreligious, nongovernmental institution capable of confronting repressive regimes. Nowhere was this more pronounced than in Egypt, where militant, politicized, often violent ultras—organized clubs of soccer fans—played a key role in the protests that forced President Hosni Mubarak to resign in February 2011. Since his resignation, Egyptian ultras have continued to play a prominent role in Egyptian street politics.

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